Monday 5 September 2022

The sphere of her usefulness

What does the prime minister actually do?

Liz Truss has been announced as the UK's next prime minister.

Boris Johnson will step down on Tuesday and Ms Truss will become the third British female PM.

“Physician, heal thyself,” is the hardest, and most unanswerable of all taunts — in the present condition of medicine — and when it is proved against the parson of a parish, that he cannot keep the Prince of evil out of his own house, the sphere of his usefulness — to put it in the mildest form possible — becomes restricted.

R.D. Blackmore - Christowell. A Dartmoor Tale (1882)

Forgive the antique language, but it does the job well enough. It remains to be seen if Liz Truss can keep the Prince of evil out of the House, because it has come to that. If she cannot keep malign totalitarian forces out of our democracy, then the sphere of her usefulness — to put it in the mildest form possible — becomes restricted.


Sam Vega said...

Well, she hasn't really done anything wrong yet, barring a few media blunders, which is to be expected.

The issue is not that she is a physician who needs to heal herself, but that she needs to prove she is more than an impostor in a white coat carrying a doctor's bag. Recently, we have had a slew of Prime Ministers who have given the impression of having wandered into the position by accident; that they had the articulacy and confidence to ask for the job, having done nothing to deserve it. At least Boris wasn't like that. But Theresa May was, so was John Major. Cameron was very close to it. Blair was at first, before he went insane. Truss looks like the worst so far. Let's hope she can pick a good team.

A K Haart said...

Sam - I agree, Truss does look like the worst so far. I'd prefer to be optimistic, but she would have to be a remarkable person to extricate us even partially from the mess we're in.

Ed P said...

On a more positive note, perhaps Truss's obvious limitations will mean we're back to Cabinet government, rather than the executive overreach recently. It could be the start of a more sensible way - consensus by ministers!

Peter MacFarlane said...

My expectations are low to zero.

She is completely unimpressive and gives no appearance of even understanding the mess we're in.

Maybe she'll turn out better than she looks, but Trump didn't and Boris didn't. One learns not to expect people to change.

dearieme said...

It is impossible that Truss will be worse than Blair. She could be worse than Brown, I'll give you that. (Brown as PM, that is - she's unlikely to be as bad a PM as Brown was a Chancellor.)

It's, what, evens whether she'll be as bad as Heath and Wilson? I doubt she'll be as good as Alec Home though her spell of office could be as short.

A K Haart said...

Ed - that could be a positive outcome if she selects a good team and doesn't have to spend all of her time firefighting. Her problems are formidable though.

Peter - it's like gambling - we lose and lose again but still hope to hit the jackpot in spite of that little voice telling us it doesn't work like that.

A K Haart said...

dearieme - I don't think she'll be around long enough to be as bad as Blair. She needs a good dollop of luck early on, but it isn't easy to see what that might be.